Christopher Ross Shogun

Christopher Ross, the cinematographer of the exquisitely shot first two episodes of FX’s hit series Shogun, says his biggest challenge was recreating the Japan of more than four centuries ago — a world that no longer exists.

Christopher Ross’ kit, packed

Though Ross loves state-of-the-art equipment, he also loves to hold on to classics, as he explained when we asked him to show us his tools of the trade for this latest edition of What’s In Your Kit, a recurring feature in which MovieMaker asks some of the greatest cinematographers in the business to show us their must-have tools. “I carry some old faithful things around with me from project to project,” Ross told us.

Here are a few of his favorite and most essential tools, and his descriptions of why he keeps them in his kit. —M.M.

Spectra Professional IV-A and Sekonic L-608 Light Meters 

Although we shoot digitally these days on most projects, I still use a light meter. The Spectra is the one I used for my first movie, London to Brighton, directed by Paul Andrew Williams. We’ve been together 19 years. It’s held together with gaffer tape, and it’s my good luck charm, I suppose.

Panglass

For looking at the sky and watching for cloud movement and for positioning lamps during prelights, et cetera. I designed it on a piece of software called Shapr 3D and had an engineering company in China make one for myself and a very good friend, DP Laurie Rose.

Adidas Superstar Trainers

I’m very scruffy and these are the only trainers that survive the on-set experience. This particular pair were purchased to celebrate Shogun — they are themed in the style of a Hokusai woodblock print.

Also Read: Shogun DP Christopher Ross on Chasing the Sun Across a Lost World

Apple iPad

I couldn’t go anywhere without my iPad. It has an app on it called Notability which I use to break down every script and do my lighting plans on and communicate with my team. Every scene has a page and a drawing associated with it, with frame grabs from location images. I use sun path detailing from the Helios Pro app. All of my framing choices are taken with Artemis Pro.

Mounts

I’m a huge fan of really random bits of glass. I carry a lot of Russian Jupiter and Helios lenses, depending on the project. For a project that I just did in Finland, I had the 20mm Mir and the 35mm Helios and the 58mm Helios, for taking location snaps. I use M42 mounts for attaching obscure old stills lenses to the Sony FX3.

Fogal Noblesse Pantyhose

I like to re-net the anamorphic lenses for diffusion purposes. So I have a set of black and a set of blue. They get smaller and smaller every time I do a job. Sadly, they’re no longer manufactured, because they’re one of the few hosiery types to not have Lycra added, which means they’re perfect as a diffusion material. If you can find a pair of Fogal Noblesse 110s then you should buy them, because they’re rarer than unicorns.

Nikon 35Ti and CineStill Film

For location recces and inspiration.

Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera

I love the Blackmagic Pocket camera. I’ve got the original 16mm with a C-mount adapted for Bolex lenses and a 4mm fisheye lens that comes in usefully every now and again.

Ray-Ban Sunglasses

For protecting my eyes in the sunny places that we are lucky enough to find ourselves filming.

Main image: Christopher Ross, courtesy of the author. All other photos by Christopher Ross.

Shogun is now streaming on FX on Hulu.

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